Uguu~right in the solar plexus!
*Wipes a Tear*
Dear God in heaven please help me stop watching these sad and painful movies! I just wish I could stop but I can’t because they are so fuckin good!
Unnecessary story short, I went and bought the book thinking that it would shed light on the movie seeing as the movie was so artse that it left a lot of story on the tale for the viewer to conjure up but I just needed more having been left wanting with all those WTF endings! Sadly it turned out that the book was so different from the movie you would fight a battle of adaptation in court and win because that is a whole as difference! I literally stopped at chapter 1 and sold the book because it was useless!
And so what we have in the movie is all we have and it is sad that we don’t have more but that is the beauty of art, right? That’s how we humans are! To continue wanting something we have to be starved of it so I guess I will just have to suck it up and settle for what we got!
This movie hits and it hits hard! There is a lot to unpack here that I want to go and slap all those shallow headlines that just focused on the sensuous and erotic book cover instead of the very deep messages and pain underneath!
To tell you the truth I went into this for the subtext I saw in the trailer but I stayed and love the movie not for the gay undertones but for the story and the presentation of that story! Sometimes even I, who is a part of subject, forget how so different cultures are just by crossing some body of water and even in some cases, just some line on land!
The Third Wife, though set in the 19th century, shows these differences in culture that make you question your morality and your views on the world around you but then before judging you stop and think about your own world and how it looks to these other cultures! At times I got angry at the Vietnam we see in the movie but then I am reminded of my own home country and how much worse we are compared to the world in the movie and I realise that I need to remember my roots and also slow down a little before hitting the hard breaks!
The feelings hit harder if you are invested in May’s character and when she finally figures out how so wrong the world she is a part of and how everyone around her is part of the whole system and then seeing how so powerless she is at doing anything about it, it really hits right in the soul!
May is our main character who at 14 ( I am guessing the marrying age then) got married to a wealth man who already had two other wives and May was to be the Third Wife (roll credits)! We are not sure about the others but if we think that they maybe the same as May, watching her tells us of their predicament!
Now, while it might be a bit more different with May given her life’s journey there because if the others’ lives progressed as hers did, then it is a miracle they are all still sane and seemingly happy! You see, all the way from the beginning there is just something different about May! First of all, the day she steps into that village she falls in love with the second wife Xuan! While the three wives are having sex talks, she mentions that all she feels is pain during intercourse and even though Xuan and Ha (the first wife) tell her that she will get used to it, I doubt she does!
Now of course as time goes by, her heart grows fonder as we all do and it is not until towards the end when her brain is kicked back into the side lane and after her illusion of a happy life there is put to an end by a heart breaking conversation that she is begins to wake up from the matrix!
The day her child is born, a young girl who just got married to Ha’s son kills herself because not only did the son not want her, having fallen sick from his love for Xuan but her father refused to take her back even with three times the dowry he had paid and on top of that he blamed her for the problem even though it was the son that was at fault and acting like a spoiled brat!
It was quite a sad moment, almost like an exchange – a life for a life!
And May was so obviously not ready to give birth! She nearly died during labour but she was saved by Ha (the first wife)! She was like…15!! And the baby could not stop crying and with everything going on it was just too much for May to the point that she was contemplating killing the baby and maybe even herself! We last see her staring intentionally at some nightshades (very poisonous flowers earlier used to put a sick cow out of its misery), taking some petals and hovering them over her baby’s mouth!
We see her last with that scene which can be taken either way! Did she kill the baby or not? Did she kill herself or not? I would like to think that she did not but the world she was living in just wasn’t for her! Not only her though! There is also Nhan, the girl that movie actually ends on!
Nhan is one of the three characters who question the world they live! The others being May herself and the son I mentioned! These three saw the cracks in their constructed world’s walls and they asked the right questions, no, they were the only ones that sked questions! The son asked why he was marrying a girl he did not know let alone love! He fought so adamantly that he went against his scary father and a mother that already had problems of her own that he could have done it for her if anything!
May saw the whole world! She was an observer that watched and learned and deconstructed then reconstructed everything she saw. Unlike the son though, she had no power! Her power lessened even more when the child she gave birth to was a girl instead of a boy! A boy would have given her power but that was not the case!
Nhan is one of the three daughters of the second wife Xuan! Her elder sister Lien was like 12 and she was already being lined up to marry after the son’s marriage! Nhan despite being like 8 or 9, she was a very interesting character! Her sister was very kind and loyal and she knew her place! But not Nhan! Her very first rebellion was when they decided to kill a cow that was sick so that it wouldn’t die on the son’s wedding day! She was so angry that even as they punished her to kneel outside for hours she refused to eat in defiance!
Things got more interesting when the girl that married her brother killed herself! While she reacted strongly at the death of the cow and cried like she had lost someone in the family, during the girl’s funeral, it might as well have been another prayer day as she was just playing with stones as if nothing was going on!
It was such a bizarre scene because Nhan is not that babyish!
What of the movie’s ending? It was of her cutting off her own hair! You must imagine what that might have meant in such a time! Why had she done it? She was of course starting her own battle against the world! Earlier on she had told her sister that when she grew up she would turn into a boy and get herself many wives! Now of course the first time you hear that you think, aww, she is so cute! She is just being a child! But then the ending happens and you are like, hmm….
It is such a subtle movie but there is such strong messages in there that by the end of the movie, if you followed along, you will be crying your eyes out when it finally hits you!
But while the story is all good, you all know I did not write about this movie just because it is good! God, what do you take me for?!
And of course just like all great movies, this one too made me fuckin angry among all the other emotions! This of course had to do with the yuri in here! And by that I mean May and Xuan!
Like I said, May was in love with Xuan (the second wife) the moment she came to the village on her wedding day! All she has eyes for is Xuan! Even a blind person will feel the burning gazes May has for Xuan!
Unfortunately, those feelings are one sided! They so much so in fact that there is zero possibility that Xuan would have returned them! It is not that she is super straight! Well, she is straight but it is mostly other things most prominently being her cowardice! You see, she is no angel! She was fuckin her own son for crying out loud!!!!! Yeah, he was the son of the first wife but come the fuck on! She did not love him though! Maybe she did but when shit hit the fan, she abandoned him and in the process broke him to the point of him leading to the death of mention girl! The girl was also like 13 or 14 too!
So then when May confessed her feelings you knew there was no way that was ending well given Xuan’s past deed! And indeed, it doesn’t end well! It is the first time you see May crying! Not when she was having painful intercourse, not when she was in labour but when Xuan rejected her feelings on the point of ‘it’s wrong’, ‘god will punish us’ and I was like, really bitch!?! Where was this morality when you were fucking your son, huh?!!!
“You don’t love me!” May states, just like the son had at a stone-faced Xuan! ‘I love you, but like a sister’! What are you talking about?!! She is the third wife to your husband!!! So what if he wanted a threesome, would you say, ‘No, I can’t, she is my sister’!
Like, again I ask, someone tell me the logic where sleeping with your husband’s other wife is so wrong and punishable by God but sleeping with your husband’s son, your son, is fuckin right?!
This is the same bullshit as that BNK48 drama where it was okay for brother and sister to be in love but not cousins!
Anyway, the point stays and I am writing about this because of May’s feelings! They were real! Unlike the bullshit that Xuan spouting about May not being in her right mind because she was pregnant (Bitch, she was in love with you since she met you!!!), we see her love, we know it, we feel it and thus she is a member of the community hence why I am writing about it!
Also, it is a very fuckin good movie and subtly empowering!
I love it and recommend it!